LEWISBURG — Mike Glazer was neither on the Monument Committee nor other restoration group but remembers much from when the Union County Civil War Veterans’ Memorial got a facelift.
Glazer reported news for The Lewisburg Daily Journal, a predecessor to The Standard-Journal. His beat included covering Union County commissioners, which one day heard from veterans who’d found out that the solder and sailor statues from the monument were in sad shape.
“They brought it up that they would like to get some help in restoring the statues,” Glazer said. “Of course, I didn’t know anything about the statues yet.”
Max Bossert, then a commissioner with Ruth Zimmerman and Harry Van Sickel, offered to show the statues to Glazer. They were being stored under the Second Street stairs at the Union County Courthouse. A maintenance worker was called to get into the unlikely storage area.
“We opened the door and there they were,” Glazer said. “You walked under the stairs and they were standing in the dark in there.”
Their copper lading had acquired a green tinge at the time and one of them was missing a sword..
“Supposedly, Bucknell students one night came and stole the sword,” Glazer said. “They decided to take the statues down because what happened was that one was leaning and bent.”
Glazer recalled the fundraisers for the monument, including the “Gettysburg” screening at the Campus Theatre, which raised a few bucks. Union County also contributed. But the next challenge was finding a place to do the actual restoration. They found a Lancaster-area company which put a resin over the copper shell so it wouldn’t tarnish.
Glazer, and some of the original Monument Committee members, took two trips to the company to visit the statues and to check on progress. They included members of the American Legion Post 182 Kratzer Dull, whom he said were pleasures to work and travel with.
The start of what has become the Union County Veteran’s 4th of July Parade and Gala sprang from the rededication of the monument. Glazer said help came from everywhere, including USP Lewisburg at a time when he was also president of the Community Relations Board. He said the warden, a man named Lamar, informed him that skilled inmates in the camp portion of the USP were always looking for things to do and could help.
“They will design the floats and build them, if you can supply the materials,” Glazer said he was told by Lamar. “Money was raised to supply plywood, I think from Lewisburg Builders Supply. A couple of the inmates designed a river barge, a PT boat and there might have been a covered wagon.”
He also recalled Bossert stored the floats in his barn, though one year he thought they were left out in Wolfe Field.
Glazer, originally from New York City, said he had only lived in the area a short time when the parade started.
“What really struck me was that people would put their chairs out on the sidewalk two days before,” he said with a chuckle. “That was just amazing to me.”
The first few years featured an all-purpose parade before its focus turned to veterans, yet much of it remains the same.
“It hasn’t really changed as far as the trust people have in each other and the community spirit,” Glazer said. “The faces might have changed, the leadership might have changed, but the general essence of Lewisburg hasn’t changed. It is still a very special place.”
Much like the “witness trees” at the Gettysburg National Military Park, Glazer said the windows of buildings near the monument “saw” the monument’s history since the beginning. He also noted with pride that a photo of the rededication of the monument was taken from the exact spot of one taken during the 1901 dedication.
Visit www.unioncountyveterans4thofjuly.com, call 844-VETSDAY or email email@example.com for more information about the 25th annual parade and related events. The parade is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 29 on the streets of Lewisburg with a day and evening full of events to follow.
Staff Writer Matt Farrand can be reached at 570-742-9671 and via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.